Remembering Les Laing, Jamaican Olympian – Dead at Age 97

Les Laing, Jamaican Olympian

Leslie Laing, Jamaican Olympian

by Howard Campbell

[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – Les Laing, a member of Jamaica’s legendary 4×400 meters relay team that won the gold medal at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, died in Clermont, Florida on January 7 at age 97.

His daughter Lesley Saunders confirmed his passing.

Laing ran the second leg of the event, handing off to Herb McKenley who gave to anchor runner George Rhoden.

Arthur Wint was the other member of the famous quartet who set a world record time for the race in 3:03:9.

Wint died in 1992 while McKenley died in 2007. Rhoden lives in the United States.

Laing was born in Linstead, a rural market town in St. Catherine parish. He also represented Jamaica at the Olympics in 1948 in London where he was sixth in the 200 meters

In Helsinki, he was fifth in the 200 meters.

After his athletics career ended, Laing, a trained agriculturalist, became sales manager for the Caribbean with the Central Soya company in Puerto Rico.

He and his wife Carmen, a former Jamaica high jumper, moved to Clermont 15 years ago.

Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Culture and Sports minister, lauded Laing’s achievements.

“Les Laing was a true Jamaican sports hero.  He was one of the pioneers on whose shoulders many of our athletes stand as they take on the world and win. There is no doubt that Les Laing and his contemporaries have been the lasting inspiration for a lot of what Jamaica has achieved in sports,” she said in a statement.

Les Laing is survived by his wife, three children, five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and a sister.

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